skip to Main Content

Gluttony

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Gluttony

The Didache

And concerning food, bear what you are able; but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods. – The Didache

Shepherd of Hermas

“Sir,” say I, “are they from which we must be temperate and abstain?” “Listen,” said he; “from adultery and fornication, from the lawlessness of drunkenness, from wicked luxury, from many kinds of foods and the costliness of riches.”- ibid

“Listen,” [said he,] “through what works the evil desire brings death to the servants of God. Before all is desire for the wife or husband of another, and for extravagance of wealth, and for many needless things to eat and drink and other luxuries, many and foolish. For even luxury is foolish and vain for the servants of God.”- ibid

Clement of Alexandria

Some men, in truth, live that they may eat, as the irrational creatures, “whose life is their belly, and nothing else.” But the Instructor enjoins us to eat that we may live. For neither is food our business, nor is pleasure our aim; but both are on account of our life here, which the Word is training up to immortality. Wherefore also there is discrimination to be employed in reference to food. And it is to be simple, truly plain, suiting precisely simple and artless children–as ministering to life, not to luxury. And the life to which it conduces consists of two things–health and strength; to which plainness of fare is most suitable, being conducive both to digestion and lightness of body, from which come growth, and health, and right strength, not strength that is wrong or dangerous and wretched, as is that of athletes produced by compulsory feeding. – The Instructor — Book II

Altering these by means of condiments, the gluttons gape for the sauces. “Whatever earth and the depths of the sea, and the unmeasured space of the air produce,” they cater for their gluttony. In their greed and solicitude, the gluttons seem absolutely to sweep the world with a drag-net to gratify their luxurious tastes. These gluttons, surrounded with the sound of hissing frying-pans, and wearing their whole life away at the pestle and mortar, cling to matter like fire. More than that, they emasculate plain food, namely bread, by straining off the nourishing part of the grain, so that the necessary part of food becomes matter of reproach to luxury. There is no limit to epicurism among men. For it has driven them to sweetmeats, and honey-cakes, and sugar-plums; inventing a multitude of desserts, hunting after all manner of dishes. A man like this seems to me to be all jaw, and nothing else. “Desire not,” says the Scripture, “rich men’s dainties;” for they belong to a false and base life. They partake of luxurious dishes, which a little after go to the dunghill. But we who seek the heavenly bread must role the belly, which is beneath heaven, and much more the things which are agreeable to it, which “God shall destroy,” says the apostle, justly execrating gluttonous desires. – The Instructor — Book II

But let our diet be light and digestible, and suitable for keeping awake, unmixed with diverse varieties. Nor is this a point which is beyond the sphere of discipline. – The Instructor — Book II

For we do not abolish social intercourse, but look with suspicion on the snares of custom, and regard them as a calamity. Wherefore daintiness is to be shunned, and we are to partake of few and necessary things. “And if one of the unbelievers call us to a feast, and we determine to go” (for it is a good thing not to mix with the dissolute), the apostle bids us “eat what is set before us, asking no questions for conscience sake.” Similarly he has commanded to purchase “what is sold in the shambles,” without curious questioning. We are not, then, to abstain wholly from various kinds of food, but only are not to be taken up about them. – The Instructor — Book II

Wherefore we must guard against those articles of food which persuade us to eat when we are not hungry, bewitching the appetite. For is there not within a temperate simplicity a wholesome variety of eatables? Bulbs, olives, certain herbs, milk, cheese, fruits, all kinds of cooked food without sauces; and if flesh is wanted, let roast rather than boiled be set down. Have you anything to eat here? said the Lord to the disciples after the resurrection; and they, as taught by Him to practise frugality, “gave Him a piece of broiled fish;” and having eaten before them, says Luke, He spoke to them what He spoke. And in addition to these, it is not to be overlooked that those who feed according to the Word are not debarred from dainties in the shape of honey-combs. For of articles of food, those are the most suitable which are fit for immediate use without fire, since they are readiest; and second to these are those which are simplest, as we said before. But those who bend around inflammatory tables, nourishing their own diseases, are ruled by a most lickerish demon, whom I shall not blush to call the Belly-demon, and the worst and most abandoned of demons. He is therefore exactly like the one who is called the Ventriloquist-demon. It is far better to be happy than to have a demon dwelling with us. And happiness is found in the practice of virtue. – The Instructor — Book II

therefore admire those who have adopted an austere life, and who are fond of water, the medicine of temperance, and flee as far as possible from wine, shunning it as they would the danger of fire.- The Instructor — Book II

“For wine,” says Androcydes, “and gluttonous feeds of flesh make the body strong, but the soul more sluggish.” Accordingly such food, in order to clear understanding, is to be rejected. –The Stromata, or Miscellanies — Book VII

The vivid remembrance of death is a check upon diet; and when the diet is lessened, the passions are diminished along with it. – Fragments of Clement

For what else is luxury than the voluptuous gluttony and the superfluous abundance of those who are abandoned to self-indulgence? – The Stromata, Book II

Lactantius

But what influence is exerted on the souls of men by the precepts of God, because of their simplicity and truth, is shown by daily proofs. Give me a man who is passionate, scurrilous, and unrestrained; with a very few words of God,

“I will render him as gentle as a sheep.”

Give me one who is grasping, covetous, and tenacious; I will presently restore him to you liberal, and freely bestowing his money with full hands. Give me a man who is afraid of pain and death; he shall presently despise crosses, and fires, and the bull of Phalaris. Give me one who is lustful, an adulterer a glutton; you shall presently see him sober, chaste, and temperate. Give me one who is cruel and bloodthirsty: that fury shall presently be changed into true clemency. Give me a man who is unjust, foolish, an evil-doer; forthwith he shall be just, and wise, and innocent for by one laver(3) all his wickedness shall be taken away. So great is the power of divine wisdom, that, when infused into the breast of man, by one impulse it once for all expels folly, which is the mother of faults, for the effecting of which there is no need of payment, or books, or nightly studies. These results are accomplished gratuitously, easily, and quickly, if only the ears are open and the breast thirsts for wisdom. Let no one fear: we do not sell water, nor offer the sun for a reward. The fountain of God, most abundant and most full, is open to all; and this heavenly light rises for all, – The Divine Institutes, Book III

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top